Born David Augustine Jr., he started his music career after teaching math at a middle school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. By the end of 2008, Dee-1 released three mixtapes and started to become recognized on CNN, Billboard, and the Washington Post. Eventually, he resigned from teaching to focus on his music career. In 2009, Dee-1 released his first studio album David & Goliath and his single “Bring Em to the Dome” that featured trumpet player and rapper Ty Ochsen. This single was featured as the New Orleans Saints theme song of the year. Recently, Dee-1 has he’s eyes set on “Slingshot David” with the lead single “Hood Villians”, which was handpicked by Lupe Fiasco. Dee-1 also started a powerful movement called “Mission Vision.”
Santana: I know there was a time when Christian rap music wasn’t accepted in the church. How do you think it’s progressed over the years?
Dee-1: I never really knew what Christian rap was growing up. I guess the way that it’s progressed is that now it’s not considered lame or corny by people in the mainstream. Maybe in the past, that’s how it was considered. As for me, I’ve been rapping about my life since I started rapping. The fact that it really clicks with some people and they’re like, “Dang this dude is really open when he talks about his life and his love for God.” I’m always cool with whatever they want to call my music. It’s up to the people to decide what my music is. I’m just doing what I was put on this earth to do.
Santana: What advice would you give children who are interested in becoming a Christian rapper?
Dee-1: I would say only get into the music game if you’re gonna bring something different to it. It makes no sense to go through all the stuff that comes along with this industry; all of the stress and turmoil mentally, plus the long hours. It makes no sense to do all that if you’re doing all that just to try to sound like somebody that’s already in the game. Only get into it if you have a unique story to tell.
Santana: What made you get into Christian rap?
Dee-1: Nothing made me get into Christian rap. If you do your research on me, the first tour I ever went on was with Young Dro and Killa Mike and this group called Pat Dibbs with Grand Hustle. After that, I went on tour with Lupe Fiasco. Then, I went on tour with Lecrae. Following that, I went on tour with P.J. Morton. Now, I’ve been headlining my own tours lately.
The main thing with me is I just wanted to be a rapper. Before anything, I wanted to rap. I was a teacher at first, but I wanted to rap because I knew that was where our most influential people in our culture were. They were all rappers. Rappers are able to dictate a lot about this culture we live in. That’s pretty much what I was passionate about.
Once I got into the rap game, wherever I ended up at I was cool with it. I just wanted to make sure my presence was felt. Now, I got a lot of people listening to me. I know that I’m in conversations when people are talking about who’s really dope and raising accountability for these artists. A lot of artists don’t want to be role models. I think that’s very cowardly of them. How can you not want to be a role model when this is clearly a professional and genre where we are a hero to our fans? Our music helps people get through their day to day lives. I want to be a person that embraces being a role model.
Santana: What was your most memorable performance?
Dee-1: I was on tour with Lecrae at a show in Cincinnati. I was really sick before the show. I was throwing up and had diarrhea. I was so sick. A lot of people were telling me not to perform, but something in me was like, “I came this far. I’ve got to perform. I can’t let these people down.” I got on stage feeling horrible. I must have had the flu times two! (laughs) I remember performing. I got the strength from somewhere to perform and be able to stay on stage and be myself. It was that performance right there, with me being sick as a dog, where a dude came up to me afterward with tears in his eye. He was crying as he said, “After I saw you on stage tonight, your passion and energy connected with me so much until I ended up giving my life to Christ tonight. Like literally, I made that decision. That’s what I wanted to do after seeing you on stage tonight.”
It’s weird that in your darkest hour and at your lowest point, sometimes when you push through… that can be the exact moment that can help change the course of someone’s life. I experienced that.
Santana: If you had the chance to work with another artist, who would that be?
Dee-1: My dream collaboration would be to work with on Nas on the Hip-Hop side. Nas is my favorite rapper. If I had a chance to work with a gospel artist, Kirk Franklin and Erica Campbell. Kirk Franklin actually knows and respects me a lot.
Santana: With all the recent news buzz about you, I did see the Five Fingers of Death you did a Sway. That was dope. Also with your album coming out two weeks ago; everything about it was awesome! It includes amazing artist like Avery Wilson, Seven Streeter, Kourtney Heart and many more. How do you manage to stay humble?
Dee-1: Staying humble is not hard. I know that no matter how many fans, followers or how much money I get, I’m just a child of God. That’s been ingrained in me. So staying humble is not hard. It shouldn’t be hard for anybody. This can all be taken away from me at any moment.
Santana: Let’s talk about the Dee-1 Knowledge for College tour. How does it feel to travel to all these different places and share your knowledge with people?
Dee-1: It feels like this is why we become successful. It’s so that we can inspire others with our success. I see how the world works now. You work hard and become successful. When you do become successful, the first thing you want to do is give back. If you’re not really successful, you can’t help anybody else.
Santana: Speaking of another tour, ‘Slingshot David’ tour that’s coming up next year, I’m planning to go to one of your shows. I’m in Jackson, Mississippi. So the closest show will be in New Orleans, which will be your last show.
Dee-1: Watch this… Definitely get your tickets to go to the show, but I’m actually coming to Jackson on December 9th at a spot called Offbeat JXN. This is a free event called “Behind the Music: A Meet and Greet with Dee-1.” I’ll be breaking down the album and talking about it.
Santana: Tell us what else you have on the horizon from the end of this year to next year?
Dee-1: Right now, the album is brand new. I’m just pushing the album. I have a lot of music videos I’m about to drop from the album. I’m definitely getting ready. This is going to be the best tour I’ve ever had in my entire life. Even if you come to that event in Jackson in a couple of weeks, I’m not performing at that event. It’s an adult Meet and Greet with Jessica Simien. She’s a real dope blogger out there.
Now with the show, definitely come to the show. That show is going to be so turnt. I’m just excited about pushing the album. It’s all about ‘Slingshot David (The Album)’ right now and Sling Shot David tour starting in January.